The term “influencer marketing” often brings up the image of fashion, fitness, lifestyle and food influencers—those with thousands of Instagram followers and major brand partnerships. In other words, you probably instantly think of B2C brands that want to sell their products and services directly to consumers.
However, this persona is rapidly changing in 2022. In fact, B2B companies across a variety of seemingly unconventional industries are increasingly turning to influencer marketing to help promote their products and services. The majority of buying decisions in the B2B space are driven by product demos and user reviews.
During a recent webinar on influencer marketing that was hosted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Cleveland-based Moen shared that it leverages influencers to market its line of kitchen and bath faucets and other accessories.
In the marketing industry, influencers have become more important than ever across nearly every industry. According to HubSpot’s 2022 Marketing Industry Trends Report, influencer marketing is the top marketing trend for this year. In fact, 61% of consumers trust what influencers say about a brand more than what a brand has to say about itself.
For many B2B companies, influencer marketing can assist in building greater brand awareness, fostering consumer trust and improving brand loyalty.
How to Use Influencer Marketing in the B2B Space
Every day, people are flooded with information across social media, company blogs, email, search engines and more. This is where influencer marketing can come into play.
Consumers trust the opinions of their peers above anyone else when making a purchase decision. This kind of third-party validation is far more valuable than a brand saying good things about itself. This allows influencers to build upon their reputation and rapport to effectively shape and guide their followers’ purchase decisions.
The main goal of B2B influencer marketing is to get your brand in front of an influencer’s existing audience and build trust over time. It is a way to create credibility and social proof that a brand’s products and services actually work, are genuinely liked and deliver on their promises. In other words, it’s a highly effective way of using word-of-mouth promotion—digitally.
When strategically implemented, influencer marketing can offer an incredible ROI for B2B companies through the following results:
- Audience engagement
- Lead generation
- Customer acquisition
- Brand loyalty and advocacy
“That’s the best thing about influencers. We all have our brand story that we’re trying to tell and our key talking points, but when it comes from a creator or someone you actually follow, people associate the person with what they are recommending.” said Sara Jensen, social media and influencer manager at Moen.
Who are B2B Influencers?
When considering an influencer marketing strategy, you must first have a thorough understanding of your potential customers and who their specific influencers are.
Influencers in B2B industries are people who customers trust to guide and assist them through the decision-making path. They range from opinion leaders and industry analysts, to experts in the industry sector or even just other customers who can share their insights. Over a period of time, these B2B influencers have built their reputation based on experience, expertise and voice in the industry.
How to Implement an Influencer Marketing Strategy
1. Set Your Goals & KPIs
Before starting anything, it is important to determine your short-term and long-term goals, and what you want to accomplish with your influencer marketing campaign. These goals will have an impact on each tactic of your overall strategy and ultimately allow you to measure the campaign’s success.
Your key performance indicators (KPIs) will be determined by the overarching goals for your influencer marketing campaign. Keeping your goals at the forefront of your campaign throughout its implementation is crucial.
Below are a few KPIs that can help evaluate the success of your B2B influencer marketing campaign:
- Brand mentions
- Brand awareness
- Engagement rate
2. Determine Your Content Strategy
Based on your goals, you will need to determine what kind of content you want influencers to engage, create or participate in. A major benefit of using influencers is that it can equip your brand with extra manpower for content creation efforts.
“We don’t want to use influencers just because it’s cool or because other companies are using them,” said Jensen. “Working with [influencers], we can get some great value.”
“There are moments when they’re able to highlight our product with a really cool video that we never would have been able to make in our own four walls,” added Amanda Keiber, director of corporate communications at Oatey.
Some examples of marketing efforts that influencers can participate in are panel discussions, video content, event promotions, providing amplification of existing content and more.
3. Stay True to Your Audience
It is important to choose influencers that are experts in your specific area, but it is even more critical to choose influencers that your audience actually knows, trusts and cares about. When partnering with an influencer, you are gaining access to their audience—so choose wisely those who can effectively tell your brand’s story to the right people. This will allow your influencers to connect in a more meaningful way that will ultimately maximize the value of your partnership.
4. Think Long Term
When creating a B2B influencer marketing campaign, it is important to think long-term. B2B influencer marketing campaigns that run over an extended period of time and consistently leverage the same team of influencers tend to have a higher success rate than campaigns that are more sporadic in nature. Ideally, you want to establish a long-term partnership with these influencers, which will allow your brand the chance to fully leverage their audiences for the best results.
Where B2B Influencer Marketing is Headed in 2022 & Beyond
Within the B2B industry, digital transformation has ramped up over the past few years—due in large part to the pandemic. In a recent article, Gartner reported that 80% of sales in the B2B space are now being made digitally. This is impacting both business and buyer behavior, with the majority of market models being done digitally as well.
Given a major online shift in B2B purchase decisions, the importance of leveraging influencer marketing has been increasing within the space. Buyers look to these trusted individuals to inform and impact their purchase decisions.
Over the next few years, the B2B marketing industry expects to see more of an emphasis on digital engagement, experience and growth. Content remains a main role in the space, and experience and influence will become more prevalent than ever. Given this trend, B2B marketers will need to take advantage of influencer partnerships and enable content experiences that attract, engage and convert buyers in a way that builds long-lasting brand loyalty and trust.